Foster Care Department

What is Foster Care?
Each year, thousands of animals come in to the shelter and are not ready to be put up for adoption.  Foster Care is a program specifically designed to place those animals into temporary homes where they can receive the care that they need.

What are some of the reasons an animal is placed into foster care?

  • Lack of space
  • Underweight
  • Too young /needs bottle feeding (for circumstances where the mother may not be available)
  • Pregnant or Nursing
  • Emergency boarding situations
  • Injured
  • Socialization (dogs who need foster care specifically for socialization are part of our New Leash on Life foster program for dogs)

The majority of animals placed into foster are cats/kittens and dogs/puppies.  We do occasionally provide foster care for ferrets, rabbits, and guinea pigs as well.

What are my duties as a foster parent?

  • To provide daily care, cleaning, feeding, and administration of medication if prescribed (food, medications, and other  supplies are all provided by the SPCA).
  • To socialize and provide TLC for the animals in your care.
  • To provide transportation to and from the shelter for any necessary medical or vaccination appointments.

To BE COMMITTED to your fosters! Your foster care time commitment will vary dependent on your animal's particular circumstances and can range from one week to three months or more.

Wondering about the level of work required for foster animals? Check out our all new foster care manuals:

Read about New Leash on Life canine foster requirements here.

What are some of the qualifications necessary to become a foster parent?

  • All resident animals must be up-to-date on vaccines.
  • Home must have a separate area where your foster animals can be isolated from your resident animals.
  • Foster parents should have a flexible schedule to allow for vaccination appointments, routine veterinary exams, and any emergency that may occur.

    (The Foster Care Department has staff available Monday through Saturday to assist you should any questions or issues arise. The SPCA also has medical staff on call 24 hours a day to assist with emergency situations should they occur.)

How does the SPCA Foster Care Program work?

The SPCA receives animals that are not immediately ready to be placed up for adoption.  Potential foster volunteers are contacted with an individual animal's information (reason for foster/age/number of animals/expected foster care time frame).  If you are willing and able to foster when called, a pick-up time is scheduled. At that time, you will be given any necessary supplies. (For health and space reasons we prefer the animals to be placed as close to intake as possible.)

The animals are placed into a foster home and remain there until they are ready to return to the shelter and be placed up for adoption. Foster parents, family, and friends do get first priority if choosing to adopt their animal (regular adoption fees apply).  It may be necessary to bring the animals back to the SPCA for vaccinations, veterinary appointments, and the spay/neuter surgery (all of which will be scheduled by SPCA staff).

How do I become a foster parent for the SPCA?

Fill out a Foster Care Volunteer Application (must be 18 years old to apply). Applications can be picked up directly from the shelter, downloaded here to be filled out and brought to the shelter, or can be filled out over the phone by one of our foster coordinators - just call 716-875-7360 ext. 216.  

For more information on the program and to find out more about how you can help save lives by becoming a foster parent, call or email the department:  716-875-7360 ext. 216 or

To work with New Leash on Life dogs who need foster care specifically for socialization, call the SPCA's Behavior and Training Department at 716-875-7360 ext. 210. Download a New Leash on Life foster care application here.